Saturday, July 10, 2021

LAT 7:57 (Derek) 


Newsday 6:18 (Derek) 


NYT 4:33 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


USA Today 6:09 (Nina) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Trenton Charlson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 10 21, no. 0710

Seemed on the easy side for a Saturday NYT, but that might be because ANANSI THE SPIDER went in with no crossings and opened things up immediately. Thank you, Park Forest District 163, for teaching me Anansi!

Trenton brings us triple-stacked 15s at the top and bottom, and clearly took great care in filling the grid. I really like five of six 15s: CARELESS MISTAKE, COMMUNION WAFERS, SILENT TREATMENT, PRIVATE ENTRANCE, and the aforementioned folkloric arachnic are great. FEAST ONE’S EYES ON feels awkward—would prefer YOUR to ONE’S.

The crossings and middle fill are all pretty darn solid—I dislike OATEN but that’s it in my minus column.

Kitchen appliance problem calls me away from the computer so I’ll sign off here, 4.25 stars from me.

Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “In a Word” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 7/10/21 • Sat • Larson • “In a Word” • solution • 20210710

Phrases involving adjectives beginning with a- are reparsed by divorcing it from the word and reading the body as a noun.

I’m not accomplished enough of a grammarian (and a cursory search of the web achieved no insight) to know how to describe the non-negating a- adjectival prefix (or is a combining form?).

§ “What’s that in the road, a head?” §

As is so often the case, it’s easier shown than described.

  • 22a. [Removed an ancillary item from the menu?] PULLED A SIDE (versus ‘pulled aside’). It strikes me that this first themer could be describing the theme mechanism itself.
  • 24a. [Placed a deposit on a SoHo rental?] HELD A LOFT (… aloft).
  • 51a. [Encouraged patrons to buy more drinks?] PUSHED A ROUND.
  • 87a. [Pooh-poohed the significance of a boxing match?] KNOCKED A BOUT.
  • 117a. [Agreed to join the cast?] TOOK A PART.
  • 119a. [Put off a memorial service?] STAYED AWAKE.
  • 41d. [Used storage, awaiting next year’s parade?] KEPT A FLOAT. The clue makes much more sense in retrospect, after the answer is attained.
  • 44d. [Prepared an icy street for travel?] SALTED A WAY.

A fine little theme. The obvious criticism of the crossword is that a couple of non-theme entries intrude: 45a [On the beach] ASHORE, 107d [Out of kilter] ASKEW. They’re really noticeable. Whereas 113a [Rebelled] ROSE UP merely insinuates the alternate form AROSE.

  • 2d [Ready for a bodybuilding competition, say] OILED. Crosswords have conditioned me to try OIL(ED) UP first.
  • 4d [400 meters, for a standard running track] ONE LAP. 46a [Track event] RACE, but I tried MEET first; turns out it appears immediately below at 77d [Track event] MEET.
  • 15d [Distinctive smell] ODOR. I am contractually obligated to highlight and praise clues that don’t couch ODOR in a pejorative way. Huzzah!
  • 17d [Nickname of Thomas Wright Waller] FATS.
  • 31d [16th-century Swiss theologian] ERASTUS. The T was my final correction. It looked as if it should be ERASTUS with the crossing 56a [Heart line examiner] being the questionable PALMIST, but I nevertheless switched it to PALMISM and ERASMUS, whom I had heard of, even though I was rather sure he was a Dutch philosopher.
  • 34d [Wise to] IN ON>narrows eyes< Doesn’t fit, by my lights. That calls more for something meaning ON TO (which dupes the to).
  • 51d [Melatonin source] PINEAL. As PINEAL is typically an adjective, the clue should have an ‘informally’-type qualifier.
  • 62d [Photoshop tool] LASSO. There’s also a ‘magnetic’ version.
  • 101d [Some living room furniture] DIVANS. Raise your hand if you or anyone you know has one of those.
  • 18a [Nothing, in Nice] RIEN. As in, ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’.
  • 27a [Boy toy?] CAP GUN>moue<
  • Favorite clue: 50a [Current setting] SEA.
  • 66a [ __ fly (run producer)] SAC. 76d [Features of squids] INK SACS. I’m okay with this superficial duplication, as the terms are obviously unrelated etymologically.
  • 86a [Its flag says “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain’] IOWA. 114d [Its flag says “Industry”] UTAH. Am now wondering if Parkay has a flag, and if it says “Butter”.
  • 99a [CBers’ communication shorthand] TEN-CODE. You can see a list of terms here.
  • 102a [Period of inactivity] LATENCY. Not a word often seen in crosswords. Refreshing here.
  • 128a [Do some wool-gathering] SHEAR. Was not expecting it to be a literal clue!

Erik Agard’s Universal crossword, “KCUR 89.3 Crossword Tournament Themeless”— Jim Q’s write-up

We saw themelesses throughout June (every week!), but when one didn’t appear last Saturday, I thought they had come to a permanent end. So a big surprise to see one today from Erik Agard- A Tournament Puzzle from the KCUR 89.3 competition.

Universal crossword solution · “KCUR 89.3 Crossword Tournament Themeless” · Erik Agard ​ · Sat, 7.10.21

THEME: None (with a little wink to Kansas City in the middle)


Let’s start off with the semi-quasi-not-really-mini-theme:

  • 32A [Many can be seen in Kansas City] FOUNTAINS. 
  • 18D [Many are eaten in Kansas City] BURNT ENDS. 

If those clues seem oddly geographically specific, it’s because KCUR- the host of the tournament for which this puzzle was constructed- is out of Kansas City. It is the local NPR station.

Other faves:

  • 33A [“Was” is in it] PAST TENSE. Simple enough clue, yet it hurts my head because it’s written in the present tense. Excellent.
  • 11D [Knight with pipes and Pips] GLADYS. If that Capital P weren’t there, I’d’ve struggled with that one.
  • 55A [What you may pass if you solve this clue instantly?] ESP TEST. I had E???EST and got it somewhat quickly by my standards. Does that count?
  • 16A [Part of LGBTQIA+] LESBIAN. I dropped in ASEXUAL. Same number of letters! Quickly erased when I saw the [Umbrella part] clue and ??X led to nothing.

Really, everything in this themeless was spot on. Lots of fun fill with scrabbly letters to uncover (yet it never felt forced).

I hadn’t known that this tournament existed before completing this puzzle. I’m sure it was advertised and I simply missed it. Now I have a post-FOMO feeling. That doesn’t quite make sense… but, ya’ know what I mean. You can read about how you could’ve signed up here.

I don’t know about any of the results. Anyone have a link to that? Please feel free to share any other details. I clicked around a bit and nothing jumped out.

Anyway, this was awesome.

4.5 stars.

Jamey Smith’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 07/10/2021

This puzzle took me longer than the Stumper did to complete! That doesn’t happen that often. I am not sure what caused me to have such issues, because there isn’t anything too hard in here. Maybe the “Stumpers” ARE actually getting easier. Or maybe I am getting faster and slower all at the same time! I also am not as familiar as I should be with Jamey Smith’s puzzles. Let’s go with that theory! 4.4 stars from me.

A few highlights:

  • 14A [“Yowza!”] “BOY OH BOY!” – Great casual phrase!
  • 15A [Brief outline] APERCU – I think this word has a diacritical mark under the C. I am too lazy this morning to fix it!
  • 16A [One on a binge] CAROUSER – This could be good or bad, I suppose.
  • 46A [Organ-shaped treats that David Foster Wallace dubbed “cinnamon toast from hell”] ELEPHANT EARS
  • 3D [The Del-Satins or the Shirelles] DOO-WOP GROUP –  The Del-Satins! No idea who they are!!
  • 11D [Traditional Chinese racing craft with a namesake festival] DRAGON BOAT – These always look scary!
  • 27D [Secret agent’s onus] DOUBLE LIFE – Or a troubled teen’s onus, too!
  • 37D [Résumé, briefly] VITA – The full term is curriculum vitae, I think. We don’t use this term in Indiana!
  • 42D [Small round ornament] CIRCLET – This is basically the only term I am unfamiliar with in the puzzle, and only because I never use this term!
  • 47D [TV producer Michaels] LORNE – You don’t see LORNE Green cited much anymore as a clue. Am I that old??

A new Panda magazine comes out today, so there goes my afternoon!

Greg Johnson’s Newsday crossword, “Themeless Saturday” – Derek’s write-up

Newsday 07/10/2021

Solving all these Greg Johnson puzzles over the years has finally paid off! I found this one super-easy for some reason! Yes, I did get slightly stuck in a couple of areas, but I was surprised when the timer said just over 6 minutes! Whatever the reason, I’ll take it! Another stellar puzzle from Greg this week. Kudos! 4.5 stars from me.

A few notes:

  • 1A [Face covering] WATCH GLASS – It this what covers the face of a watch?
  • 17A [Show watched by Spanish learners] TELENOVELA – These are those Spanish soap operas!
  • 32A [Gazelle’s small cousin] DIK-DIK – I haven’t heard this animal name in ages. One of these days I am going on a safari to see some of them!
  • 38A [Holiday alternative] RAMADA – I haven’t stayed in a hotel in ages. What’s that like again?
  • 60A [Moby-Dick, e.g.] SPERM WHALE – I had GREAT WHALE in here at first. This is likely what slowed me down in some areas!
  • 64A [”We’ve come back before!”] “IT’S NOT OVER” – It ain’t over ’til it’s over! Keep at it!
  • 8D [Blackjack winner] ACE-JACK – We usually see ACE-TEN, but this is also a winning hand. I am not a gambler, but I DO know this!
  • 12D [Discussion for all] OPEN DEBATE – I had a small experience with debate in high school. I wasn’t good at it.
  • 27D [Company request, essentially] “I’M ALL ALONE” – This kinda hits home with all of the stories we have heard during the pandemic. Sad, but true, I suppose, for a lot of people.
  • 37D [”Love Train” R&B group] O’JAYS – This is taking me back!
  • 39D [Archie Comics hangout] MALT SHOP – I used to LOVE reading Archie Comics. Still do occasionally. Not sure why; they’re quite campy.

Everyone have a safe and healthy week! Enjoy some tunes while you’re here:

Erik Agard’s USA Today crossword, “Flavor-Blasted” –– Nina’s write-up

USA Today crossword solution, 07/10/2021

Super clean fill, and a quick, steady solve. There were some nice bonuses, especially 28d
and 11d. Minimal crosswordese, with little more than OREO and I SEE to make me (mildly) groan. Not much wordplay in the clues, but this shortage is earned back through ease of solving. 

One thing to note about today’s puzzle is that it does not include rotational symmetry; this is by no means a must-have for a successful crossword, but newer solvers may notice it looks a bit different than other grids they may have seen. 

The theme material was a bit sparse, with only two relevant answers in addition to the relatively clunky revealer. The theme itself was straightforward enough, though—the tunes to 24a and 26a might STICK IN YOUR HEAD, and, individually, both DYNAMITE and BUTTER are types of sticks. Agard also includes BTS (the band behind the bops) in the 1a position.

1a. [Band also known as the Bangtan Boys, with hits such as 24- and 26-across]––For those of you who haven’t heard of BTS, they are a group worth knowing. With K-Pop idols solidly rising in popularity, BTS has undoubtedly benefited from a positive critical reception.

4a. [Make nervous movements]––Though it’s clued as a verb here, I’ve recently started to see FIDGET used as a noun, as a shortened version of fidget toys. I’ll be interested to see if that trend is here to stay!

52a. [What workers might do for better working conditions]—the answer to this one is to UNIONIZE. Fun crossing here too with 47d: UNITES (or, in other words, what unionization might accomplish).

11d. [Competitor who swims, bikes, and runs] is a TRIATHLETE. With the Tokyo Olympics rapidly approaching (and the triathlon beginning in July 26), this entry seems fitting.

41d. [Solar or lunar event] — In case you were wondering, the next lunar ECLIPSE is November 19, 2021. Mark your calendars! (If, on the other hand, you’re more inclined toward edible crescents than celestial ones, look no further than next door’s 31a: CROISSANT.)

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22 Responses to Saturday, July 10, 2021

  1. David L says:

    NYT was somewhat tougher than usual for me, because 16A and 17A were slow to come. (I really wanted the answer to be BORISTHESPIDER but alas…)

    Speaking of songs, I wouldn’t have guessed that “Love will tear us apart” could be performed as a melancholy ballad, but that cover is pretty darn good.

  2. Me says:

    NYT: I understand that Total is a brand of cereal, but I’m not sure I understand how Total package=CEREAL. How does the “package” fit in? You wouldn’t say Oreo package=cookie. An Oreo IS a cookie.

    Or does Total mean something else entirely here?

    • Billy Boy says:

      A “package” of Total® contains (brand name) CEREAL. (the package is a “box”)
      A “package” of OREOs® is a box, a cellophane bag, etc. that contains (brand name) cookies.

      Disagree if you must.

  3. Michael in Chelsea says:

    Aren’t the JACK in the clue and the answer the same thing? (Stumper BLACKJACK)

  4. Will says:

    Now that we’re getting USA Today reviews, is there any chance that the site could start hosting a .puz? Or is one available somewhere that I don’t know about?

  5. Lester says:

    USA Today: See if you can wrangle any of these stumpers: 10A “Opposite of go”; 16A: “Not false”; 49A: “Half of two.” There are plenty more where those came from, but you get the idea.

  6. Robert Alden says:

    UNI: More “representation” for LGBTQIA+ today. At what point does representation become pandering and virtue signalling. Bueller? Bueller?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Here’s the problem with the term “virtue signaling.” It seems to be used by people who cannot fathom that anyone would be kind and respectful for the sake of kindness and respect. Guess what? Many of us opt for inclusion and diversity as a matter of course, simply because it’s the right thing to do, not because we’re trying to impress people. We honestly love and respect our LQBTQIA+ friends.

      Please ponder the “pandering” that has gone on for decades to ensure that straight white men see plenty of references to their kind within crosswords. You need to get over feeling startled by LESBIAN in the crossword.

    • Bernie Haas says:

      @Robert Alden – I truly pity and feel sorry for you.

    • Bernie Haas says:

      @Robert Alden – I don’t necessarily blame you. Maybe you’re a product of your generation – it must be tough to see the world change and feel like you don’t belong any more. Or maybe you’re a product of your environment – maybe you grew up in a family of bigots.

      • pannonica says:

        I don’t think it’s a question of not belonging so much as not being centered. “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

        But as you say, it may feel as if he doesn’t belong any more, which is to say, it’s a matter of perception. All very subjective.

    • Mel Cohen says:

      Robert, saying ‘virtue signalling’ is itself virtue signalling. You are doing exactly what you accuse the NYT of doing.

      Virtue signalling is publicly opining to demonstrate the moral correctness of your view.

      You believe that ‘representation’ has gone too far, etc. So you virtue signal to people with similar views that you find this unacceptable.
      You are virtue signalling like the NYT, except you come at the issue from a different angle.

      There’s probably a fancy word that describes doing what you accuse the other person of doing…

    • Billy Boy says:

      I read Robert saying that Virtue Signaling is a continuum, not an absolute. I agree that generalization, so flay me as well. I’m 70, whiteish (My peoples are all former S.S.R. countrymen and women). Heck, I’m 6’5″, too!

      I guess that statement also says to me that if peaceful loving inclusion is the goal, why highlight that you did so?

      (Took me 3 days to decide how to do this and push as few button in the process as possible)


      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        @BB, I think you lost the thread at some point. Who “highlighted that they did so” here? The puzzle was published with LESBIAN in the grid. The blogger mentioned a wrong turn he’d made, did not discuss inclusion. And the site owner only mentioned inclusion after a reader hollered “pandering and virtual signaling.”

        I will say that intentional inclusion should be visible rather than unnoticed. Are there not decades of exclusion to overcome?

  7. GR says:

    I’m not sure if there’s a link about it, but Tom Tabanao won the KCUR tournament and Matthew Luter was second. There were two preliminary puzzles to determine the finalists, which were this Thursday’s and Friday’s puzzles.

  8. placematfan says:

    Is USA Today publishing non-symmetrical grids as a regular thing?

Comments are closed.